By Zhou Rong Source: Global Times Published: 2018-7-23
When describing Sino-Pakistani friendship, people often use words like higher than the mountains, deeper than the sea, sweeter than honey, harder than steel, and more precious than the eyes. The two countries have established an all-weather and all-round strategic partnership that is time-tested and is a model for other countries with different social systems to build good neighborly relations.
The rapid construction and development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not possible without the full protection and support of the Pakistani government and army. So far, the economic corridor has been safe from terror attacks.
The corridor has become one of the earliest, fastest-moving and most effective projects under the Belt and Road initiative. Of the 43 projects confirmed at the beginning of the corridor, 20 are under construction or have been completed.
Another 157 projects in the corridor will be gradually completed in the next 12 years. As a major pilot project of the Belt and Road initiative, the corridor has been lauded by the Pakistani government.
Driven by the corridor construction, Pakistan's rate of economic growth rose to 5.97 percent last year from 3.5 percent in 2013, ranking top in Asia. As long as the corridor projects advance smoothly, economic growth can rise up to 9 percent.
The corridor construction has created nearly 60,000 direct jobs in Pakistan. It is expected to create 700,000 jobs in the country by 2030. If related industries are counted, at least 3.5 million jobs will be created, benefiting millions of families.
Many Pakistani employees have been sent to China for further study by Chinese-funded enterprises and will soon become the leading figures of the new generation seeing Pakistani industrialization.
On the other hand, although the Pakistani government and the military have been doing their utmost to protect the security of the CPEC, there are reports discrediting it by West-driven English language media.
There have been rumors, such as those saying that the corridor will follow the old road of the British East India Company and lead to a new colonization of Pakistan; China has sent a large number of prisoners to Pakistan to work on the construction in order to save labor costs; China only focuses on Punjab province; China won't offer preferential trade policy to Pakistan; the industrial park has become a special economic zone exclusive to Chinese capitals. All these rumors have had a negative impact.
China has responded to the rumors on several occasions. All Chinese engineers and technicians working in Pakistan have obtained the consent of the relevant departments of both governments. Beijing has never sent a person with a criminal record to work in Pakistan and has called back all Chinese people who have violated discipline in Pakistan. China did not send any soldier to Pakistan, nor build any military base in the country. China respects Pakistan's social and economic development and has never insisted on completely equivalent reciprocity. It continues to provide Pakistan with preferential treatment in terms of trade.
China has not stopped non-Chinese companies from entering the China-Pakistan economic free zone and has no reason to do so. And China prefers certain provinces in Pakistan because they have a good development record with a high degree of safety.
China and Pakistan should work together to curb the false reports on the CPEC through in-depth and multifaceted cooperation and build a good media corridor in between. Writers and intellectuals from both countries should also join hands to explore positive stories on the corridor.
I strongly agree with the China-Pakistan Life Rescue Corridor that is being built. We can also build corridors on employment and industrial parks so as to increase cooperation between bilateral enterprises and interaction between Pakistani and Chinese people.
The author is a senior research fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.